Coles accused of ‘manipulative’ price tag tactic: ‘It should be illegal’

A furious Coles buyer accused the supermarket giant of using a sneaky pricing tactic to “mislead” bargain hunters.

The man, who is a regular shopper of Robert Timms instant coffee, was frustrated when the cost of a 200 gram jug soared to $12.50 in August, saying he had spent several years paying $8 for the staple food of the household.

But his anger boiled over when he noticed the cost of the popular item had ‘slightly’ dropped to $10.70 when marketed as a ‘Down Down’ discount, despite the higher price he was not originally.

An angry shopper has accused Coles of being “sleazy” after noticing a startling detail on a sale price tag. Source: Reddit/mr_pineapples44/Coles

“Manipulatory questionable pricing”

In a scathing Reddit post titled ‘Coles manipulative dodgy pricing’, the man claimed to have contacted Coles and the ACCC about the ‘absolutely moronic’ act.

“So after several years at $8, Coles raises the price of coffee almost 60% overnight, leaves it there for a week, then lowers it slightly and claims it’s a ‘Down Down’ price. Absolute moron,” he wrote, alongside an image of the red and white sale tag.

“I have contacted the ACCC and Coles for comment. The ACCC says this looks like misleading pricing, but Coles should be contacted first.”

He then added the responses he claims to have received from both the supermarket and the consumer regulator.

“Coles response: It was changed for two weeks, so they can claim it was $12.50.

“ACCC: Generally, one month is required as a ‘reasonable’ selling period, but some exceptions may apply.

Shopping baskets in a Coles supermarket

Coles customers said the price tag tactic mocked the supermarket giant’s ‘Down Down’ slogan. Source: AAP

In further edits to the post, the buyer explained that he knew Woolworths was using similar practices and that he was not angry at the price hike, but rather that Coles had tried to ‘hide’ it. as a discount.

“I’m certainly not trying to pretend that Woolworths isn’t doing the exact same thing. This is simply the most recent and egregious example I’ve seen,” he wrote.

“I’m not complaining about the price. I get it, prices are going up. But trying to hide the massive price increase by claiming it as a discount is something that rubbed me the wrong way.”

Cost of living crisis

Customer complaint comes just two weeks after Coles claimed it would ‘help household budgets go further’ by locking the price of 1,168 products while reducing the cost of 500 additional items.

The disgruntled man’s rant has touched a nerve with other Coles clients also struggling with the cost of living crisis

“This should be illegal,” one person commented.

Some pointed to the supermarket giant’s catchy “Down Down” slogan, noting that the price tag tactic mocked the popular jingle.

“Our prices are down and staying low – doesn’t really work as a slogan for them anymore,” wrote one Reddit user.

Many added that they had noticed the same tactic being used on other products.

“They did this with a Palmolive body wash that we normally buy for $8. The price suddenly went up to $12 for a few weeks then dropped to $10 as the price dropped,” one shopper wrote. .

Another commented: “There are a bunch of ‘DOWN DOWN’ stickers with a previous price of August 2022. The one I took note of was Sakata which went from $2.00 to $2.30 , but a $2.75 week in the middle so they can legally add the sticker.”

Shoppers outside a Coles supermarket

The buyer’s discovery comes after Coles announced it was “locking in” the price of 1,168 products. Source: AAP

A former Coles worker chimed in to say the discount tactic was not an “isolated incident” for the retailer, while others said it was a “necessary evil” that we “have to put up with”.

ACCC Responds

In a statement to Yahoo News, an ACCC spokesperson declined to comment on the individual complaint, but said companies must not make “misleading statements” under Australia’s consumer law.

“Representations of price savings may be misleading where the product has not been sold at the price” was “for a reasonable period immediately prior to sale,” the statement said.

Coles has been contacted for comment.

Coles has since lowered the price of coffee by 50% online.

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Richard L. Militello